The Archaeology of World Religions

Module code: AR3075

This module offers an overview of the archaeology of religious belief, focussing on six major world religions; Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Lectures will act as an academic spring board, addressing the ways in which archaeologists understand the concept of religion and approach the study of places of faith, in the context of different religious traditions. In seminars, staff and students will explore case studies, themes and debates, including issues such as the concept of ‘sacred space’, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, conversion, translation, etc. Field trips to places of faith in the City of Leicester will provide a realisation of this through contemporary places of worship.

Topics covered

  • What is a world religion?
  • What kinds of issues do archaeologists need to engage with?
  • History of religion, sociology of religion, archaeology of religion
  • Holy Writ: religious texts as sources and sacred objects
  • Sacred places, buildings and spaces
  • Holy people: monks and saints, Sufis and ascetics
  • Representing the holy: art, artefact and image
  • Identity and religion
  • Rites of passage: birth and death
  • Religion, power and social hierarchy
  • Religious heritage

Teaching and learning

  • 11 hours of lectures
  • 6 hours of seminars
  • 10 hours of external visits
  • 123 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 1,500 words (50%)
  • Project and presentation, 2,000 words (50%)